March 26, 2023

What Is RAW File Format Used For? (+ The right way to Open & Edit a .Uncooked)

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Having to cope with the RAW file format is without doubt one of the complexities of digital images. 

There’s no denying it: these unfamiliar file extensions might be daunting!  

Effectively, concern not. When you get the grasp of what the RAW format is and use it, you’ll see there’s nothing to emphasize about. 

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By the tip of this information, all of your questions will likely be answered.

We’ll clarify, in easy phrases, what RAW information are, open them, convert them to JPG, and which software program to make use of to edit them. 

We’ll additionally run you thru the professionals and cons of the RAW file format and fill you in on arrange your digital camera to shoot in RAW.  

Now, let’s get began.

What’s RAW File Format?


RAW information are a kind of picture format produced by a digital digital camera. Whenever you shoot in RAW, the file will file all of the picture knowledge collected by the sensor.

Then it’ll reserve it with out processing it. 

RAW picture information are for digital cameras, what movie is for analog cameras. It’s a help that holds the picture earlier than being developed.

That’s why a RAW file is also known as a digital adverse.

For those who’d wish to experiment with some RAW photographs and observe your modifying, you may obtain these RAW information free of charge.

Ensure that to obtain RAWs for numerous cameras so that you get an concept of how completely different the information might be.

The scale of RAW information relies on the digital camera’s sensor.

For instance, a RAW file produced by a M4/3 digital camera will likely be smaller than one created by an APS-C. Each of them will likely be smaller than one from a full-frame digital camera. 

Usually talking, a RAW file is three or 4 occasions greater than the full-size JPEG photographs created by the identical digital camera mannequin. 

Most digital cameras mean you can select the dimensions of the JPEG picture file and the RAW picture file.

There’s a distinction, although. When you choose a smaller JPEG file, you improve the compression however nonetheless use the complete sensor. 

As a substitute, you might be nonetheless taking pictures RAW while you select a smaller RAW format.

In different phrases, it’s not a compressed file, however the digital camera makes use of solely a fraction of the pixels accessible within the sensor.

This lets you hold the RAW picture knowledge however occupies much less area on the digital camera’s reminiscence card.

It’s additionally useful if the digital camera’s buffer isn’t sufficient to maintain up with the unique RAW file measurement. That is while you’re taking pictures in burst mode. 

Is a RAW File a JPG? What’s The Distinction?

No, a RAW file isn’t a JPEG. Though, most RAW information embrace a JPEG preview and thumbnail.

Nonetheless, this is only one a part of the RAW information. It additionally consists of the information captured by the digital camera sensor and a sidecar with the metadata.

Is RAW format higher than JPEG

Usually talking, sure, having a RAW picture file is best than having a JPEG file.

It is because retaining all the unique knowledge provides you extra leeway for modifying your pictures. It additionally provides you extra artistic management. 

This isn’t to say {that a} JPG file doesn’t have sure benefits and could be higher in sure conditions.

For instance, in the event you don’t know post-process your photographs or don’t have time and curiosity in doing it. 

If you wish to see a deeper comparability, please examine our RAW vs. JPG article.

Professionals & Cons of RAW Information

Like the rest in images, a RAW picture format has professionals and cons. Right here’s the record that can assist you determine when to make use of a RAW file format.

Benefits of RAW file format

  • You will have all of the RAW picture knowledge to work with.
  • You’ll get higher picture high quality.
  • You will have extra management over the ultimate picture.
  • Your picture processing is non-destructive. 
  • RAW photographs have a better dynamic vary.
  • The picture has a better shade vary.
  • RAW picture information can function proof of authorship in a copyright dispute.

Disadvantages of RAW file format

  • RAW information are heavier than JPEG information.
  • You want RAW modifying software program.
  • Every digital camera producer has a proprietary RAW file format.
  • Whenever you first open RAW information, the photographs look boring.
  • You want post-processing expertise to make a RAW picture file look its finest.
  • Every picture modifying program has a distinct approach of processing RAW information.

How Do I Open a RAW File?

To open a RAW file, you want software program that helps it. You would possibly wish to use a RAW file viewer, however you’ll be higher off when you’ve got one which helps RAW processing too. 

You must do not forget that digital camera producers use their very own RAW file format. This will create some compatibility points. 

You’ll know the file kind by wanting on the RAW file extension. For instance, NEF RAW information are from Nikon cameras. 

Most RAW processing software program helps the RAW file codecs from all the main manufacturers. To make sure, hold this system up to date. 

We even have tutorials on open RAW pictures in case your format is: ARW (Sony), NEF (Nikon), or CR2 (Canon).

  • Why can’t I view RAW pictures on my laptop?

For those who can’t open a RAW picture in your laptop, it could be since you don’t have a program that helps this format. 

You’ll discover a record of the preferred software program to open RAW picture codecs within the following part.

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Nonetheless, it may be a compatibility situation in the event you do have such software program however nonetheless can’t see them. 

It is because digital camera producers create their very own RAW information.

So, those from a Nikon digital camera are completely different from these from a Canon digital camera and completely different from a Sony digital camera, and so forth.

Relying on the digital camera, you would possibly discover completely different RAW information throughout the similar model. For instance, Canon has CRW, CR2, and CR3 RAW picture extensions. 

When that is the case, you can begin by updating your software program.

If this doesn’t clear up the issue, you may convert RAW information into DNG information and even JPG information. There’s a devoted part for this additional within the article. 

What software program opens RAW information?

A number of picture modifying applications help RAW information. There are such a lot of that it may be troublesome to determine which is finest for you.

If you wish to know extra about every program earlier than committing to any of them, you may examine Shotkit’s record of the perfect picture modifying software program.

Right here’s a listing of a few of the hottest software program to make use of to edit your pictures with after taking pictures in RAW.

  • Adobe Digicam RAW (included in Adobe Photoshop, Bridge, After Results, and Photoshop Components).
  • Adobe Lightroom.
  • Darktable.
  • RAWTherapee.
  • Photopea.
  • Luminar.
  • ACDSee Picture Studio.
  • Seize One.
  • DxO PhotoLab.
  • AfterShot Professional.
  • RAW energy.
  • Affinity Picture.

You would possibly discover different on-line RAW picture editors, however we advocate sticking with offline (desktop or cellular) apps since importing a number of RAW information might be time-consuming.

  • What’s the finest RAW picture editor?

It’s troublesome to decide on just one as the perfect RAW picture editor as a result of some very highly effective applications can be found. 

Nonetheless, Adobe Lightroom is without doubt one of the hottest applications for modifying pictures. You possibly can import and edit RAW information in the identical approach as you’d do with a JPG. 

Lightroom is newer than different applications equivalent to Adobe Photoshop. Nonetheless, it inherited all of the developments executed by Adobe Digicam RAW. 

It additionally has a picture supervisor and syncs through Cloud storage along with your different gadgets.

You want an Adobe membership plan to make use of Adobe Lightroom in your laptop. The beginning worth for Lightroom is $9,99.

Nonetheless, you may also open and edit RAW information with the restricted cellular model, which is free. 

Many apps have RAW help, and the record retains rising as RAW information turn into extra common. Listed below are a few of the finest apps for iOS and Android, however there are lots of extra. 

  • Lightroom Cell – Android & iOS.
  • VSCO –  Android & iOS.
  • Snapseed – Android & iOS.
  • Adobe Photoshop – Android & iOS.
  • Pixlr – Android & iOS.
  • Halide – iOS.
  • RAW Energy –  iOS.
  • Digicam FV-5 – Android.
  • Guide Digicam – Android.

How Do You Convert RAW Information?

There are two methods of changing a RAW picture format.

The primary one – which I like to recommend, is to transform your proprietary RAW information right into a common format referred to as DNG.

This fashion, you retain the RAW knowledge out of your picture information however make them extra appropriate. 

One other chance is to transform your RAW information into JPGs.

I don’t advise this selection as a result of it eliminates some great benefits of taking pictures in RAW.

For those who don’t intend to course of the RAW knowledge out of your information, it might be simpler to shoot straight in JPG. 

Both approach, you want a RAW file converter to carry out any of those two actions.

Every program might need a barely completely different workflow, however they normally work equally.

So, I’ll clarify convert RAW information utilizing Adobe DNG Converter – which is what I exploit.

Begin by downloading and putting in the software program in your laptop – it’s free. Then, launch it. 

Choose the RAW information you wish to convert within the dialog field.

Then, choose the folder the place you wish to save the DNG information.

Lastly, merely click on Convert and let this system do its job. You’ll see the progress within the dialog field.

In the long run, you’ll have the identical RAW file with a distinct extension. 

Now, how do I convert RAW pictures to JPG? You should use a RAW file converter.

There are numerous choices to obtain and set up in your laptop.

You can too use a browser-based converter. One of the crucial common is Merely add your RAW information and click on convert. 

It’s additionally price noting which you could save RAW information as JPGs when you open them with a photograph editor equivalent to Photoshop.

This fashion, you may edit the RAW knowledge from the digital adverse after which apply the JPEG compression.

How Do You Edit RAW Images?

By now, we’ve established that essentially the most vital benefit of a RAW file is that you’ve all of the picture knowledge to work with.

So, let’s transfer on to the next query: How do you edit RAW pictures?

To edit a RAW file, you want software program that helps it. I’ve already included a listing of a few of the hottest applications earlier within the article.

For those who’re questioning which RAW picture editor is finest? There isn’t a solution to that. Each photographer has their favourite.

I like to make use of Photoshop. Though, I do know that many colleagues don’t like working with Adobe merchandise or produce other preferences. 

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If you wish to use Photoshop like me, that is the way it works. 

Ensure you have Photoshop put in and up to date. This final half is vital as a result of it ensures that this system helps newer RAW codecs. 

Double-click in your RAW file. You probably have Photoshop put in, it’ll almost certainly be set because the default software program to deal with RAW information. Then, it’ll launch mechanically.

In any other case, you may right-click on it and select Open With > Adobe Photoshop.

This may open your file in Adobe Digicam RAW – Photoshop’s RAW editor. Right here, you’ll have the Fundamental modifying panel on the correct. (See our article on: The right way to use Adobe Digicam RAW.)

On prime of the Fundamental modifying panel, there’s a histogram. I like to start out by enabling the clipping alerts. This fashion, I can regulate the shadows and highlights in order that I don’t lose particulars whereas modifying. 

Begin utilizing the sliders to regulate the white stability, publicity, distinction, and so on. 

Subsequent within the panel part, there’s Curve. Right here you may higher management the publicity and alter every channel independently. 

Within the Element part, you may alter the sharpening and scale back the noise if essential.

With the Shade Mixer and Shade Grading, you may make tonal changes. 

Then, there’s the utmost vital Optics part. Right here, you may right lens distortion. This system mechanically detects the lens you utilized by studying your picture’s metadata. Then, it applies the required corrections supplied by the lens producer.

Then, there’s the Geometry part. Right here you may right the angle of your photographs. 

You can too do selective modifying utilizing the Brush instrument.

As soon as glad with the picture modifying, it can save you the file or open it in Photoshop to proceed engaged on it. 

All of the edits are saved in an XMP file. This fashion, your RAW file stays untouched. 

  • How can I edit RAW pictures with out Photoshop?

The RAW modifying course of could be very comparable in most applications. At most, it’ll change the interface.

For instance, in the event you use Lightroom, it gained’t have a separate workspace for RAW information.

The ACR instruments are constructed within the common Develop panel.

So, the method is similar whether or not you’re modifying a RAW file or a JPEG. Though, with RAW information, you’ll have extra leeway. 

Keep in mind that the identical file might look completely different on every software program.

It is because it’s unprocessed knowledge from the digital camera.

So, it’s this system that makes use of completely different default settings to current you with a place to begin. Then, it’s as much as you to ‘develop’ that file. 

How To Set Up Your Digicam To Shoot in RAW

Most cameras use JPG as their default setting. On this case, you could entry its menu and arrange your digital camera for taking pictures in RAW. 

Every digital camera model or mannequin might need a distinct menu to vary the picture measurement and format. Nonetheless, listed here are some examples:

Canon cameras (particularly talking concerning the Canon 90D):

  • Click on on the menu button.
  • Scroll till you discover Picture High quality.
  • Choose RAW if there’s just one choice. Some fashions mean you can select completely different sizes of RAW. You possibly can even mix them with completely different compression JPGs. On this case, choose the mixture that you simply choose. 
  • Click on Set to use the settings.

Nikon cameras (particularly the Nikon D3200): 

  • Entry the menu with the Menu button or use the again display screen touching QUAL: NORM.
  • When the Picture High quality menu opens, select RAW or RAW + F in the event you additionally desire a JPG file. 
  • Click on OK to use.

Olympus cameras (particularly the OM-D E-M-10 Mark III):

  • Click on the OK button.
  • Use the up and down arrow buttons to scroll till you arrive at Nonetheless Picture High quality.
  • Use the left and proper arrow buttons to browse the choices. 
  • Select RAW or one of many JPG + RAW choices and click on OK to use. 

Sony cameras (generic instance supplied by Sony Asia):

Why do photographers shoot in RAW?

Photographers choose to shoot in RAW as a result of it provides them full artistic management over the picture’s closing look.

Additionally, RAW picture knowledge permits you to begin your modifying course of with the very best doable high quality.

This fashion, you may recuperate extra particulars from the highlights and open up the shadows with out shedding high quality.

It additionally permits for simpler and extra correct customization of the white stability. 

The sharpening instruments and noise discount options work significantly better on RAW information.

They will preserve the picture high quality and finally offer you higher outcomes.

You can too right the publicity by extra stops with out shedding element or high quality in your picture in case you could.

All this manipulation is much less prone to create banding or artifacts in a RAW file. 

Final however not least, the edits in a RAW file are saved in a sidecar file – though this would possibly rely on the software program you utilize.

You possibly can delete that file and begin over. The unique picture knowledge at all times stays intact. 

Are you able to Shoot RAW on a Telephone?

Sure, many smartphones help RAW information. Most often, they use the common RAW file format referred to as DNG.

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Nonetheless, iPhones have their very own RAW picture format referred to as Apple ProRAW.

You possibly can obtain an app in case your telephone doesn’t help RAW taking pictures on the native digital camera. For instance, Adobe Lightroom for cellular permits you to shoot in RAW.

  • Which telephones help RAW pictures?

Most newer smartphones help taking pictures in RAW. For instance, Android telephones with Lollipop or a latest model help RAW photographs. As for iPhones, anybody ranging from 6s. Additionally, Google Pixel telephones help it. 

Taking pictures in RAW is turning into increasingly more common. So, it’s virtually sure that any telephone you purchase now will help one of these file. Nonetheless, you may Google the particular telephone mannequin you need and see if it permits you to shoot in RAW. 

  • How do I edit RAW on my telephone?

The way in which you edit a RAW picture file isn’t completely different from post-processing a JPG file. The one factor is that you simply want an app that helps RAW modifying. 

Every app might need a barely completely different workflow, however it’s normally very comparable. I’ll describe the method on Snapseed because it’s free and accessible for Android, iPhone, and iPad. 

  • Launch Snapseed.
  • Faucet on the display screen to launch the browser and select the picture you wish to import. Faucet on it to take action. 
  • Whenever you import a RAW file, you’ll have accessible the Develop menu. Faucet on it. 
  • This may open a scroll-down menu with all of the changes you may make. For instance, Publicity, Highlights, Shadows, and so on. These will enable heavier modifying with out shedding high quality as a result of you might have all of the picture knowledge accessible. Faucet on the function you wish to alter. 
  • Swipe left and proper to extend or lower the setting you might be adjusting as if it had been a slider. For instance, within the Publicity function, you may swipe left to underexpose and proper to overexpose.
  • Now, you may proceed your modifying as if it had been a JPEG. Open the toolbox and select the instrument that you simply want. For instance, the selective instrument permits you to do focused modifying. The Therapeutic instrument permits you to take away undesirable objects, repair blemishes, and so on. 
  • When glad, faucet on the Obtain icon to save lots of your edited picture. Understand that it gained’t be a RAW file when you reserve it. Will probably be a separate JPG. 

RAW File Format FAQs

Is RAW format higher than JPEG?

In most conditions, sure. It is because it has RAW picture knowledge, which lets you hold a better dynamic vary and a broader shade vary. In consequence, you may shield the picture high quality even in the event you do some intense modifying.

Can a JPEG be a RAW file?

No. As soon as the file is saved as a JPEG, all of the RAW info is processed and compressed. So, even when it was created as a RAW file, all of the RAW knowledge is misplaced while you reserve it as a JPEG.  

Why can’t I view RAW pictures on my laptop?

Not all picture editors or picture reviewers help RAW picture information. For those who can’t see your RAW pictures, be sure you’re utilizing software program that helps it. If you understand that this system helps it however can’t view the RAW file codecs, it could be a compatibility downside. You possibly can replace your software program or convert your information to a common RAW file format. 

Why do my RAW photographs look boring?

It is because RAW information open with barely any processing in digital camera. Every modifying software program applies a selected method to current you with a viewable picture. From right here, it’s as much as you to make your picture pop along with your modifying. 

Is PNG and RAW the identical?

No, they’re several types of picture file codecs. Whereas PNG information have lossless compression, they’re processed in digital camera. As a substitute, RAW information hold the picture knowledge intact so that you can course of with modifying software program.

Is RAW sharper than JPEG?

RAW information mean you can entry higher image-sharpening algorithms. This allows you to sharpen the picture with out affecting the picture high quality. In consequence, the RAW processing will ship a sharper picture than a JPEG picture.

Is TIFF and RAW the identical?

No, TIFF and RAW information are two completely different codecs. TIFF is a picture file format that preserves the very best picture high quality. Nonetheless, a TIFF file has already processed the picture knowledge, in contrast to RAW information.

Last Phrases of RAW Picture Information

So, that’s just about all the things it’s best to must know concerning the common RAW file format!

RAW information might sound formidable to the brand new photographer, however actually they’re not too difficult in any respect – simply consider them as step one in your modifying course of.

For those who don’t wish to spend time modifying your pictures, you may at all times shoot in JPEG mode in your digital digital camera.

Nonetheless, we advocate taking pictures in RAW file format every time doable because it permits you a lot extra artistic freedom so as to create your closing photographic masterpiece.

Go away your questions on RAW photographs under, and we’ll be completely satisfied to assist.